The Pendragon Society’s 1000 Greatest Films (2019) 620-601


620. Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) Dir. Joel & Ethan Coen, 105 mins.

Set in 1961, the film follows one week in the life of Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac in his breakthrough role), a folk singer struggling to achieve musical success while keeping his life in order.

619. Stranger Than Paradise (1984) Dir. Jim Jarmusch, 89 mins.

Jarmusch’s absurdist comedy was shot entirely in single long takes and is a three act minimalist story about Willie (John Lurie), who lives in New York City, and his interactions with the two other main characters, Eva (Eszter Balint) and Eddie (Richard Edson). Some will hate the slow pace, but others will find it an occasionally hilarious and engaging comedy.

618. Forbidden Games (1952) Dir. Rene Clement, 86 mins.

Adapted by Francois Boyer, director Rene Clement, and two others from Boyer’s novel, the story focuses on Paulette (Brigitte Fossey), a five-year-old refugee from Paris taken in by a peasant family after her parents are killed during a bombardment of a civilian convoy.

617. The Vanishing (1988) Dir. George Sluizer, 107 mins.

It stars Gene Bervoets as a man who searches obsessively for his girlfriend following her disappearance at a rest area.

616. Roma (2018) Dir. Alfonso Cuarón, 135 mins.

Set in 1970 and 1971, Roma, which is a semi-autobiographical take on Cuarón’s upbringing in the Colonia Roma neighborhood of Mexico City, stars Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira and follows the life of a live-in housekeeper of a middle-class family.

615. The Aviator (2004) Dir. Martin Scorsese, 170 mins.

Based on the 1993 non-fiction book ‘Howard Hughes: The Secret Life’ by Charles Higham, the film depicts the life of Hughes, an aviation pioneer and director of Hell’s Angels. The film portrays his life from 1927–1947 during which time Hughes became a successful film producer and an aviation magnate while simultaneously growing more unstable due to severe obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD). Leonardo Di Caprio gives an excellent performance as a one time billionaire playboy who becomes a recluse.

614. The Crime of Monsieur Lange (1936) Dir. Jean Renoir, 80 mins.

The titular Lange (Rene Lefevre) is an author of wild west novels. When the owner of the company that publishes his works absconds with the company funds, Lange rallies the employees together to create their own publishing house.

613. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) Dir. Robert Aldrich, 134 mins.

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? is a psychological thriller produced and directed by Robert Aldrich, starring Bette Davis as an aggressive and selfish former actress who holds her paraplegic sister (Joan Crawford) captive in an old Hollywood mansion.

612. Hope and Glory (1987) Dir. John Boorman, 113 mins.

Boorman’s semi-autobiographical film tells the story of the Rohan family and their experiences of the London Blitz as seen through the eyes of the son, Billy (Sebastian Rice-Edwards).

611. Stop Making Sense (1984) Dir. Jonathan Demme, 88 mins.

Bank rolled by Talking Heads themselves, Jonathan Demme’s concert film was shot over the course of three nights at Hollywood’s Pantages Theater in December 1983, as the American rock band were touring to promote their new album ‘Speaking in Tongues.’ Notable as the first movie made using entirely digital audio techniques, it’s also been lauded for the brilliant direction, editing and the energy and general performance of the band.

610. Landscape in the Mist (1988) Dir. Theodoros Angelopoulos, 127 mins.

Produced, directed and written in his traditionally episodic fashion by Greek filmmaker Theo Angelopoulos, the internationally produced Landscape in the Mist concentrates on a pair of runaway children, (Tania Palaiogou and Michalis Zeke) who are attempting to travel to Germany, where they believe their father is dwelling.

609. Repulsion (1965) Dir. Roman Polanski, 105 mins.

The plot focuses on a young woman who is left alone by her vacationing sister at their apartment, and begins reliving traumas of her past in horrific ways.

608. A Trip to the Moon (1902) Dir. Georges Melies, 14 mins.

Perhaps the most famous film of the decade, A Trip to the Moon, was loosely based on Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon and H. G. Wells’ The First Men in the Moon. Méliès stars as Professor Barbenfouillis, the President of the Astronomer’s Club who proposes an expedition to the Moon. A space vehicle in the form of a large artillery shell is built in his laboratory, and he uses it to launch six men (including himself) on a voyage to the lunar surface. The vehicle is shot out of a large cannon into space and hits the Man in the Moon in the eye (the moment remains one of the most iconic and frequently referenced images in the history of cinema). Having landed, the intrepid French explorers encounter unfriendly extraterrestrials. The explorers flee to their spaceship and hurry back to the safety of Earth. While the use of overlapping action may confuse and even disconcert the modern viewer, A Trip to the Moon is still seen as important to view thanks to, what was then, an unusual length, lavish production values, innovative special effects, and an emphasis on storytelling that was markedly influential on other film-makers and ultimately on the development of narrative film as a whole.

607. A Touch of Zen (1971) Dir. King Hu, 200 mins.

According to this drama, set in 14th-century China, a state-run secret police organisation made life a living hell for anyone with the temerity to cross it. In the story, a noblewoman is in hiding. When a police spy tries to take her to his masters, she beats him in single combat.

606. Stromboli (1950) Dir. Roberto Rossellini, 107 mins.

Shot in English, Stromboli was one of four films Ingrid Bergman made with her future husband and neo-realist director, Roberto Rossellini. She stars as Lithuanian war-refugee Karin, who marries Italian fisherman, Antonio, so she can get out of a hellish internment camp. He takes his new bride back to his native volcanic island off the coast of Sicily, Stromboli, but despite her efforts to fit in, the locals reject her and soon she comes to regard the island as a bigger prison than the one she left. With investment from RKO and despite the international box office attraction of Bergman, the film was a financial failure. This was not helped by the star’s off screen affair with Rossellini while making the film or the onscreen leaving of her husband which caused the studio to hugely cut the film to appease American morals and the Production Code. However, Bergman shows her true ability as an actress revealing a vulnerability missing from her earlier work, perhaps because of her complex relationship with Rossellini and her own struggles fitting in with a new culture having left the Hollywood mainstream and her family. Her work with Rossellini may have been less gratifying to her than her Hollywood success, but with Stromboli her acting ambitions had brought her the leading role in an enduring work of visual and psychological poetry.

605. Born on the Fourth of July (1989) Dir. Oliver Stone, 145 mins.

Some may consider his performance histrionic but Tom Cruise proved he really could act in Stone’s biography of paraplegic Vietnam War veteran and political activist Ron Kovic.

604. Son of Saul (2015) Dir. Laszlo Nemes, 107 mins.

Set in the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II, Son of Saul follows a day-and-a-half in the life of Saul Ausländer (Géza Röhrig), a Hungarian member of the Sonderkommando (a work unit made up of death camp prisoners). Numbed by his harrowing experiences cleaning up the gas chambers, Saul regains some humanity when he takes it upon himself to arrange a burial for one of the victims. Winner of Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards, the film is probably the most intense and devastating look at the horrors of World War 2 since Klimov’s Come And See made 30 years earlier.

603. Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012) Dir. Benh Zeitlin, 91 mins.

A pulsating and atmospheric fable set in a forgotten but defiant bayou community, cut off from the rest of the world by the sprawling Louisiana levee, that follows a big hearted six-year-old girl (the enchanting Quvenzhane Wallis) and her relationship with her no-nonsense father (Dwight Henry). Buoyed by her childish optimism and extraordinary imagination, she believes that the natural world is in balance with the universe until a fierce storm changes her reality. First time director Benh Zeitlin delivers an impressive and visually engaging mix of magical fantasy and biting realism despite a small budget.

602. The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) Dir. Nicolas Roeg, 139 mins.

A British psychological science fiction film directed with his normal eccentricity by Nicolas Roeg and written by Paul Mayersberg, based on Walter Tevis’ 1963 novel of the same name, about an enigmatic extraterrestrial (an excellent debut from David Bowie) who crash lands on Earth seeking a way to ship water to his planet, which is suffering from a severe drought. However, despite becoming remarkably wealthy thanks to his alien invasions, the visitor is soon corrupted by the addictive and darker sides of earth culture. Not for the easily offended, but Roeg’s film is now lauded as a sci-fi classic full of unforgettable imagery and plenty of satirical bite against America’s corporate world.

601. Empire of the Sun (1987) Dir. Steven Spielberg, 154 mins.

One of the films with which Spielberg attempted to gain greater recognition as a serious artist, it tells the story of Jamie “Jim” Graham, a young boy who goes from living in a wealthy British family in Shanghai, to becoming a prisoner of war in a Japanese internment camp, during World War II. The director deploys his considerable skill at evoking emotions although some will say he is too heavy handed.




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